Gene Okerlund, known as “Mean Gene” to WWE fans, leaves behind two children and his wife, Jeanne.
One of Gene’s sons, Todd Okerlund, was a pro hockey player for a short time and played in the Olympics.
Gene Okerlund has died, WWE announced on Twitter on January 2, 2019. “WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund, the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, has passed away at age 76,” the tweet read. A cause of death was not released.
Here’s what you need to know about Gene Okerlund’s family:
1. Gene Okerlund’s Son, Todd Okerlund, Was a Pro Hockey Player
Todd Okerlund was drafted by the New York Islanders to play pro hockey. According to his career stats page, he played right wing and was born on September 6, 1964 in Burnsville, Minnesota. He stands 5 foot 11 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds.
You can see his career statistics here. A knee injury forced him into retirement after just one professional season, although he also played for the University of Minnesota and Springfield Falcons.
He is a member of the Burnsville High School Hall of Fame who lettered eight times, was captain of the 1980 state champion football team and led his high school hockey team to its first state tournament. He was a member of the University of Minnesota Hockey team.
Todd Okerlund was a member of the 1988 U.S. Olympics team, according to the Star Tribune.
He played on the U.S. National team. You can see his Olympic statistics here. He did score a goal during Olympics hockey play, the statistics reveal.
Todd Okerlund is now the CEO of an advertising company in Minnesota and helps lead other ventures, including a website where people can download old wrestling videos called ClassicWrestling.com.
2. Gene Okerlund Was a Grandfather
Gene Okerlund has a grandson named Brady, who is the son of Todd Okerlund. A 2012 video story on Todd Okerlund in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune focused, in part, on his joy of becoming a father to a young boy. It even showed him changing diapers.
“Grandpa likes him. We don’t know if he’s going to be a broadcaster or announcer. But hopefully not contact sports…wrestling would be ok,” Todd Okerlund said.
The story said that Okerlund was a partner to Brady’s mom, who is named Patricia.
3. Gene Okerlund Was Married to His Wife, Jeanne, Since the 1960s
Gene Okerlund was survived by his long-term wife, Jeanne. According to IMDB, they had been married since 1964.
“He has been married to Jeanne E. Okerlund since March 27, 1964. They have two children,” IMDB reports.
Mean Gene’s net worth was generally estimated at around $9 million. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Mean Gene and Jeanne lived in Sarasota, Florida.
Her Facebook page says she is from Wausau, Wisconsin. Less is known about Mean Gene’s second child.
4. Gene Okerlund Received a Kidney From His Wife
Gene Okerlund’s cause of death was not released. However, he did suffer from different health ailments throughout the years.
“He underwent two kidney transplants, in 1995 and 2004. One of which he received from his wife,” The Sun reports.
5. WWE Released a Long Statement on Gene Okerlund’s Death
This is the statement released by WWE after Gene Okerlund died:
“WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund, the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, has passed away at age 76.
“Mean Gene”, as he was named by fellow Minnesotan, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, first came to prominence as an interviewer in the American Wrestling Association. In 1984, Okerlund made the move to WWE where he became as recognizable as the Superstars he asked the tough questions to, including “Macho Man” Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior and, perhaps Okerlund’s greatest guest, Hulk Hogan. Countless Hulkster interviews included the indelible phrase, “Well you know something ‘Mean’ Gene!”
As the respected and reliable man behind the microphone in WWE, Okerlund branched out from interviewing and provided ringside commentary and hosted several shows, including All-American Wrestling, Tuesday Night Titans, Wrestling Challenge and Prime Time Wrestling.
Announcing wasn’t all that Okerlund could do with a microphone, as he performed the National Anthem at the first WrestleMania in 1985. Later that year, Okerlund would sing ‘Tutti Frutti’ on WWE’s The Wrestling Album.
In 1993, Okerlund joined WCW where he continued to interview many of the legends he had worked with in the AWA and WWE as well as WCW stalwarts like Sting, Diamond Dallas Page, Goldberg and others.
Okerlund returned to WWE in 2001 to call the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania 17 along with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and continued to appear on WWE television programming, including as a cast member on WWE Network’s Legends’ House.
WWE extends its condolences to Okerlund’s family, friends and fans.”